‘Jesus called loudly, “Father, I place my life in your hands!” Then he breathed his last…All who had come around as spectators to watch the show, when they saw what actually happened, were overcome with grief and headed home. Those who knew Jesus well, along with the woman who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a respectful distance and kept vigil.’ (Luke 23:46, 48-49 MSG)
On this Good Friday, as I reflect on Jesus’ crucifixion, I sense the grief of the witnesses present. I sense the breaking of hearts, the confusion, the sense of utter lostness and despair. I feel the crushing disappointment, the loss of hope, the heaviness of mourning.
I feel the heaviness of mourning.
I can only imagine how the disciples must have felt on that terrible day.
Even though I did not watched Jesus die in person, I have known terrible loss, a sense of spiritual distance, a time of standing over a chasm of despair. I have seen black nights when all I could do was keep vigil, hoping against hope that morning would bring the light.
I am sure you have had such nights too. At times, all of us have been overcome with grief.
I have seen black nights when all I could do was keep vigil.
It is hard to find our way when darkness sets in. I often find myself wishing I owned a kind of spiritual torch, something to illuminate the pitch-black night so I can pick my way through the terrain with the flick of a switch. But there is no such thing. Sometimes our walks of faith are blind.
Yet the dawn is coming. It awaits us on the other side of the night. When it will arrive who can say, but with this slender thread of hope we keep vigil, watching for the first signs of sunrise, holding on with our last ounce of strength.
The dawn is coming.
Hope takes a lot of courage. Hope is not easy. But every Good Friday, in the midst of lament, we are reminded of the promise of Easter Sunday, that Jesus’ death was followed by resurrection. Hope is a promise he keeps.
When you are overcome with grief, whatever shape that may take, may you remember Good Friday and how the darkest night in history was followed by a resurrection dawn.
Father, in our times of despair, grant us the grace to believe in you. Help us to keep vigil through the darkest of nights. Place your hope in our hearts, that we may find strength and courage to follow where you lead. Amen.